CDT has recently acquired and verified a collection of propaganda directives issued by central Party authorities to state media at the beginning of this year. These directives were issued on an almost daily basis in early 2020, and we will be posting them over the coming weeks. The following directives were released on January 21, 2020.
Regarding the novel coronavirus epidemic situation, promptly report information issued by authoritative departments and every item listed for prevention guidance. Important information can be verified with the health department to prevent confusion and respond to the concerns from society. Scientifically promote prevention knowledge, guide the public in strengthening prevention and awareness ability, and check for and delete rumor and false speculation. (January 21, 2020) [Chinese]
This directive, the latest in a steady series of press guidance concerning the emerging novel coronavirus outbreak, was a near repeat of one circulated the previous day, the first day Chinese authorities and state media acknowledged human-to-human transmission of the virus. CDT obtained another near similar directive dated January 21, missing only the final sentence about “rumor and false speculation.” Also on January 21, the first article accusing officials of concealing information about the outbreak spread like wildfire online.
When the outbreak began about three weeks earlier, Chinese authorities acted immediately to restrict information about the emerging crisis, disciplining several medical workers for spreading “rumors.” One of the admonished, Dr. Li Wenliang, later died from the disease, and remains a symbol free expression and human decency for many in China.
Concerning the Mercedes-Benz that entered the Forbidden City, when reporting, you may use information issued by the Palace Museum for brief reports. Don’t comment, don’t aggregate or write extensive reports. Play down the story to reduce its temperature, investigate and promptly delete extreme and destructive information and negative expressions of opinion. (January 21, 2020) [Chinese]
This directive reiterates the requirements from two issued on January 20. On January 17, a woman posted a picture of herself and a friend standing next to a luxury SUV in a courtyard of the Forbidden City, accompanied by bragging text. SupChina cited public backlash to the conspicuous flaunting of wealth and privilege.
Reminder: On January 20, a knife incident occurred at Beijing Chaoyang Hospital injuring a doctor and patient. Relevant departments are If reporting, follow information from authoritative departments, play the story down, do not make links [to relevant stories], do not aggregate, and do not hype. (January 21, 2020) [Chinese]
This is a re-circulated directive from January 20 emphasizing and renewing guidelines on covering the latest in a long-running series of attacks on medical staff. On January 16, Sun Wenbin was sentenced to death for the murder of the doctor who had treated his 95-year-old mother at Beijing’s Civil Aviation General Hospital.
Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. Some instructions are issued by local authorities or to specific sectors, and may not apply universally across China. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source. See CDT’s collection of Directives from the Ministry of Truth since 2011.